In their first game together, the line of center Jordan Staal and wingers Teuvo Teravainen and Sebastian Aho combined for 11 points.
The next time out, the line set the tone for the Carolina Hurricanes with a monster shift that lasted more than two minutes and seemed like 10 – at least for the opponents, the San Jose Sharks.
While the line did not have a point in the Canes’ 1-0 victory Tuesday over the Sharks, the so-called “TSA” line offers a different look on the ice and has a nice playmaking feel to it.
Staal is 28, the old guy in the boy band. Canes coach Bill Peters noted that during the long shift Sunday, Staal was the first to come off the ice.
“Jordo, the oldest, smartest one of them all, changed first because he was exhausted,” Peters said.
Staal smiled Thursday when told of Peters’ comments.
“I wasn’t exhausted,” he said. “I thought hopefully (someone) would jump over the boards and get a goal for us. Those are shifts that win you games and the style we need to play to wear teams down.”
To recap the shift, the Canes’ best of the season, the Staal line took the ice with 16:20 remaining in the first period. After a pair of faceoffs, Teravainen brought the puck into the offensive zone with 15:59 showing and the Canes kept it there for the next minute and 58 seconds.
Players typically play shifts of about 45 seconds. Staal was on the ice for two minutes, six seconds before changing for center Derek Ryan. Aho followed eight seconds later and then Teravainen was the last off with 13:57 left in the period, and defenseman Jaccob Slavin and Brett Pesce both were out the same length.
“It was pretty weird, because two minutes is pretty long,” Aho said.
Teravainen, whose comfort level appears to grow with each game, did a little of everything in the shift, stick-handling, passing, cycling, moving and shooting. He had four shots on net and another that was wide in the shift.
“It was crazy,” Teravainen said. “Too bad we didn’t score, but we got momentum from it. It was pretty fun.”
The line scored a lot Saturday when first together. Aho, 19, had the first two goals of his NHL career and an assist in the 5-1 win over the Washington Capitals. Staal and Teravainen, 22, each had a goal and three assists.
A year ago, Staal combined with Andrej Nestrasil and Joakim Nordstrom to form an effective checking line that also gave the Canes some good offensive zone time. They did it with strength, with some heavy play on the puck, until Nestrasil was injured in late February.
Peters gave the line another look this season but decided before the Washington game to go with Staal and the two Finns. Aho and Teravainen, while both 5 feet 11 and about 175 pounds, are good backcheckers who have quick sticks and quicker feet who are able to forecheck, cycle and hold on to the puck in the offensive zone.
“They may not be sticking their backs out and leaning on guys, (but) more using their speed and their hands to move the puck quicker and make guys react defensively faster,” Staal said.
Staal, at 6-4 and 230 pounds, is a physical presence in all three zones and is among the NHL leaders in faceoff percentage.
“He wins battles all over the ice,” Teravainen said. “I think he’s one of those guys who makes his wingers better every time.”
The Sharks game Tuesday was won because of goalie Cam Ward’s near-flawless play in net and Nordstrom’s third-period goal. Sharks goalie Aaron Dell, in his second NHL start, matched Ward much of the game.
Peters said Ward again would get the start and there would be no lineup changes Friday as the Canes (5-6-4) face the Montreal Canadiens (13-2-2), the Eastern Conference leaders, at PNC Arena.
“Every line is kind of forming their own identity and playing to that identity,” Peters said.
And, in one case, getting a “TSA” nickname.
Montreal Canadiens at Carolina Hurricanes
Friday, 7:30 p.m., PNC Arena
TV/RADIO: FSCR, WMCM-99.9 FM